On Benedict Pond

If Thoreau could have a pond, so can I.

I have been going out to the Bear State Forest about 25 minutes from Lenox and it has become my refuge. It is beautiful, solitary, and I’m watching the seasonal changes happen before my eyes. I have only had time to go once a week on my one day off, so it is my church, my sanity, my communion with nature and myself. I need it and crave it.

I thought I would be finding a new hike to explore each week, but every Sunday I am drawn back to the same pond. I guess if Walden Pond was good enough for Thoreau for a couple of years, once a week on Benedict Pond is ok for me. Silence is broken only by leaves noisily crunching under my feet.

It seems as though I’ve actually learned this whole resting thing that I sought way back in my first post (Meander-81 posts ago!). I am comfortable with the unknown and the realization of “what will be will be” that I learned at the Medicine Wheel (Lessons from a cattle drive ), and it is allowing me to rest in the path laid out before my feet.

As I was hiking around the pond I was struck by something I heard this week in the acting conservatory about our bodies being containers. I let this rattle around in my brain as I hiked and it really started to make sense. The idea is that I am just a container filled with stuff (wisdom, beauty, goodness, anger) whatever the text may need at a given moment. In my daily life this principle works too. I am the container for beauty. I am not beauty but I am the conduit that beauty passes through to others. I’m not wisdom but I am the conduit that wisdom passes through. If I stay open I can be anything! I can be charm, I can be discernment, intelligence because I am just the container. A willing fabulous container. I do have to make a conscious effort to open my lid to be filled and pour out on others, but what a lovely way to live! It takes away all responsibility and greed. I am just the container for good things to pass through to others, so I can’t really take prideful credit, it’s not my doing!

My pond is very special. Someone has made a note box and inside is a composition book, pencils and sharpener. It is situated right near a lovely bench that looks out on the pond. I stop each time and draw and write something in the book. Today I drew a picture of a pitcher, my container, being filled and pouring out wonderful things.

I walked past a tree that is being gnawed by a beaver. When I was little one of my favorite movies was Lady and the Tramp and since that time I have had a soft spot for beavers and dogs eating spaghetti. I can still hear the animated, buck-toothed, lisping beaver saying with a whistle “sthaay, it workths sthwell!” (watch a clip on YouTube ) I’ve always wanted to be able to make that whistling lisp but have never been able to master it. So to see a tree in a partially gnawed state along the path that looked just like the one in the movie, flooded me with excitement. I found a few more toothed trees and then found the smaller pond where there were beaver huts. I cannot wait to go back next week when I have a bit more time and sit silently and wait to see if I can actually encounter my first real beaver in it’s own habitat possibly busy at work storing up food for winter.

My life continues to amaze and delight me. There are new things happening everyday, from hurricane warnings, meeting with school officials for the Shakespeare Festival, being asked to be in a play working with psychiatric patients, watching actors hone their craft, walks in ankle-deep leaves, sharing wine and having reunions with old friends. I am completely where I want to be for now. There is a deep satisfaction in knowing I am where I am supposed to be. And it’s all because I learned to patiently put one foot in front of the other and trust that I am on the right path even if it looks covered with weeds and dimly used.

I learned this, at least, by my experiment;
that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

from the “Conclusion” to Walden


46 thoughts on “On Benedict Pond

  1. This was such a beautiful post to come home to. I had forgotten how my muscles relaxed as I walked through the forest surrounding my old home. The other memory that came to me while reading your post was the smell of the air, so clean and crisp and pure.
    The imagery if being a vessel is just as wonderful and you can bet it will stay with me. There is much to said for taking time to be alone in a place where you feel peace. Yes, one foot in front of the other.

    • Yep, we are all in this big world together, doing the best we can. Being out in nature really brings about connection to myself and others. Thanks for reading, really I do appreciate your comments.

    • I love to express myself through drawing. Last Christmas one of my daughters (who is an AMAZING artist) gave me a pad of watercolor paper with the instruction that I was to create a page (draw, paint, collage, whatever) and then send it to her, and she had the same paper and she would have 24 hours to create a page and send it to me, then I would have 24 hours to create another etc. And in the end after we finished all the pages she would bind them into a book somehow. So for the past year I have been painting and drawing and doing all sorts of things I’ve not done before, and totally enjoying it! It has freed me to express myself in a new way. So the short answer is YES, I do draw other things!

  2. The solitude of a walk in the woods gives pause to the day. Sometimes I wish I could go back to when I was a boy where the woods were a few steps away. We played in the river, made forts in the woods and had a great time.

    • I hear you, going back to a simpler time is dreamy, but it certainly can be done somewhat. I skip and daydream and find a childlike spirit when I make the effort to find some solitude. Hope you can too!

  3. You are living a very deliberate life – and that is very inspirational. You know right where you are and where you are going. Well said… I love Thoreau, and have a post about him and his pond too. I’m glad you found your’s – keep trekking!

  4. I love living in south Florida, but my heart still aches for scenery like that in your pictures–thank you for sharing them! I grew up in Danbury, CT, and used to love hiking, running, and taking in hills and leafy trees.
    There is so much peace, clarity of thought, creativity, and inspiration that comes from meandering, whether walking or running. What a wonderful thing, to have a favorite place like this to visit regularly!
    Your comparison of ourselves as containers reminded me of some verses I’ve read in the Bible, where we are compared to “jars of clay”–ordinary containers to hold extraordinary things! There is another passage in which early Church pastor Timothy says he is “being poured out”. I thought of these words immediately as I read your words. I don’t know if you share my faith as a Christian, but I do love thinking of myself as a container, a conduit as you said.
    Keep writing; I’m glad I got to read your post this evening!

    • I am glad you were able to get happiness from reading. That makes ME happy! I find hiking and mountains essential to my life these days, so I can understand if you miss it. Florida has it’s own beauty, those beaches can have quite an allure if you can get far enough away from people! Solitude can be so rewarding.

  5. While it is not easy to write a little piece every three weeks or so with all other things going on in life and other projects, I try to open the “lid” of which you speak, and I wonder what it might mean for someone else. I understand what comes out, but its reception is a mystery.

  6. Lovely post. I appreciate writers who contemplate spiritual issues and add just the right amount of humor to keep it real. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  7. Pingback: Midday mushrumps… | meanderest

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